Caisse de dépôt bets on wind energy

The $165bn asset manager has completed its third ever investment in renewable energy, acquiring a minority stake in 13 wind power projects for $500m.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (La Caisse) has invested $500 million in a portfolio of wind farms operated by wind power generation company Invenergy.

La Caisse, which manages institutional funds primarily from public and private pension and insurance funds in Québec, now owns a minority stake in the wind farm portfolio, which includes 11 wind projects in the US and two in Canada.

The transaction marks only the third investment in a renewable energy company for La Caisse, following an investment of nearly $100 million in Québec-based Innergex Renewable Energy last July and $25 million of financing for Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms in the form of a senior debt loan in 2011. 

“We think that renewable energy is the sector of the future,” Macky Tall, senior vice president of infrastructure at La Caisse told Private Equity International. “All government policies look forward to having a certain portion of their generation coming from the renewable space and we felt that we would have an appetite for investing in renewable energy to the extent that it closely meets our investment criteria.”

La Caisse’s infrastructure portfolio is overseen by Normand Provost, executive vice president of private equity.

The institution now puts more money to work via direct investment than via fund commitments.

“We feel comfortable being about 40 percent in funds and 60 percent in direct investments,” Luc Houle, senior vice president at La Caisse, told Private Equity International last year. 

In 2011, La Caisse’s C$2.5 billion (€1.9 billion; $2.5 billion) of new investments was split almost evenly between C$1.3 billion in direct investments and C$1.2 billion in fund investments.

With about $165 billion of total assets, La Caisse has divided its investments more or less evenly between Canada, Europe and the US.